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A repot on "Early European Jewelry"

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A repot on "Early European Jewelry"

I liked this report, it was fun to do and I loved the topic! lol! ~Scarlet          

Early European Jewelry          By Scarlet O’Rourke
                                                                                 November 16, 2004 A.D.
    Jewelry played a big part in the daily life of early Europeans. Someone’s ornaments could tell their rank, how much money they had, and sometimes, where they were going. The materials used to make the treasures were important as well. The array that was worn consisted of a few key pieces that could tell many things about a person.

     People of wealth would have their jewelry made of recycled gold coins, precious stones from the East, and freshwater pearls from Scotland. Europeans of lesser rank would have mostly local silver, bronze, semi-precious and handsome stones for their decorations.     Gold was more valuable than silver because of the abundance of one and absence of the other. There were many silver mines in Europe, but no gold mines. Instead, gold came from coins and recycled jewelry that was “out of date”.
 The gems used on the metalwork where great in number and variety.  *“Among the most frequently used stones (were) rubies, sapphires, emeralds, turquoise, and diamonds (that) came mainly from the East: rubies were brought from India and Ceylon, sapphires from Ceylon, Arabia, and Persia, emeralds from Egypt, turquoises from Persia and Tibet, and diamonds from India and Central Africa.”
     Often one could tell where a person of high rank was going just by the adornments they wore. For example, if a lady were to wear her biggest and most beautiful decorations, such as large gem-studded girdles, attractive cameos, and highly decorated combs; the chances were that she was on her way to a wedding or ball. If a lady wore simply nice looking pieces, especially crosses, small earrings, brooches, and plain combs; you could judge that she was on her way to church. It was not proper to wear much jewelry at a church because it was considered a great vanity. I must note that the clothing styles of the time did not allow for a very large array. Brooches, belts and girdles, rings, coronets and other head ornaments were the most common elaborations of the days.

      The keeping and giving of gemstones and metalwork was also important in these days. At weddings, it was a tradition for either the bride’s family or the bridegroom to give the bride a precious stone, ring or brooch. The rich would often keep many such articles for future use, proof of wealth, and sentimental values. Another example is in the Comitatus relationship. Lords or kings would often present their thanes with rings, brooches and necklaces, thus obtaining the name Treasure-giver. The poem Beowulf shares good examples of comitatus. In the poem, Beowulf gave his thanes rings before they went into battle. This was a sign that the thanes had pledged to fight alongside and protect Beowulf.

     Jewelry played a large role in Early European societies. It was, in a sense, their name badge telling of wealth, rank, and marital status. Jewelry has taken many shapes over the years. It has not ceased to capture the eyes of people everywhere. Even today jewelry has its places in our society. It is obvious that even back then decorations could make or break an outfit, just like today.

*  http://www.ceu.hu/medstud/manual/SRM/jewel.htm*. This is the site I used for my information. I also used some of my own knowledge on the subject.

Posted: July 31, 2005 

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